LIFT Night Shift (That Would Have Been)
“Malik’s work feels like a party, political manifesto, endurance visual feast and like the girls I grew up with all in one hour. It feels like plurality, simultaneity and conflict at the same time. You leave their work feeling so full of many parts of yourself, dancing and gazing, sitting and standing, moving but also completely still. And then you go into the theatre bar after the show and......
You feel dead.” – Travis Alabanza
Night Shift was meant to be a party for Black trans artists, curated by artists and friends Malik Nashad Sharpe and Travis Alabanza and commissioned by LIFT. The party was cancelled due to COVID-19. This shoot takes place where the party would have been, as a chance to archive the idea and the plan for Night Shift – and to ensure that it happens in the future.
| © Elise Rose @elisexrose
Partying, Experimenting And Kiking
Travis: Sis, what makes a good party?
Malik: Good music, party favours, the dolls, dim lights, sweat, pasted hair to the face, chaotic energy, the vibe of living life to the last day.
Travis: This would have been damn chaos. In the best way. I feel like the art world tries to admin its way out of chaos, like they don’t know how to embrace it. Why did you wanna do Night Shift?
© Elise Rose @elisexrose Malik: I wanted to create a space that I just don’t see. I never saw a space that platforms a range of Black queer and trans and femme creatives. That focuses on their work and not their identity to be sold to the wider public. I rarely see spaces where it is about the work, of Black people that to do not fit into those labels. I wanted to party with those people. Be with those people and do something for us, to experiment and to Ki.
Travis: You are so right. I feel like often funding and experimentation is left to white people. Blackness is so very rarely given space and resources to experiment, so we always have to do it on our own terms.
Malik: We don’t have many spaces that are not regulated. So, all of the spaces that showcase our work or platform our work are all mitigated by a gaze that is not really coming from us. I just felt like I wanted to be a situation where it is us making decisions, about what we want to see.
Travis: Right. Damn. It was refreshing to be in a curational space together. To hold that responsibility and choice. I was really looking forward to what a space with us as curators working together looks like. How that party feels. What were you most excited about?
Malik: Partying. Dancing. Getting turnt and wavey. Pulling a look. And to witness, rather than perform, the works of really incredible Black trans people. I never get to experience it myself. I am constantly put on to perform, I was looking forward to the witnessing rather than performance.
You feel all the magic of the live art you have just witnessed being slowly drained out by bad lighting, awkward networking, and the continual evidence that the arts still have not mastered the way to bring the art to the party and the party to the art. You realise that this work would have been better held in a club, rather than in front of a stiff theatre wall that never wanted us anyway.
© Elise Rose @elisexrose “That the line between art and the club and the party and the work and performance has never really existed. That white theatrical and live art is obsessed with creating lines and categories that Black queer and trans work has always pushed aside.That Black transness has the luxury of knowing how to shapeshift, to bring art to every space, and the joy in transgression. That it is in the Night Shift where all the best work takes place.” – Travis Alabanza
© Elise Rose @elisexrose Night Shift, curated by artists and friends Malik Nashad Sharpe and Travis Alabanza, was set for a summer 2020 opening, commissioned by LIFT and supported by Goethe Institute’s Echoes of the South Atlantic. Hanging between a live art night and a party, Night Shift saw the duo take over a mansion in south London, and pack it with performance, dj’s, installations and interventions by Black trans, gender non-conforming, femme, queer artists and creators. Ridding the sticky walls of labels that art is so obsessed with, Night Shift placed the rapper from South Africa next to the contemporary dancer in Brixton, the poet from Berlin next to the drag queen from the North of the United Kingdom, the club girl from Brazil next to the art critic – as a way to continuing to assert the ways in which Black queer and trans aesthetic and art crosses and transcends art forms. To create the ultimate party. To show a different way of experiencing art, not to gaze, but to experience it.
© Elise Rose @elisexrose The interview is interrupted. Travis goes to ask another question but was distracted by some gossip they needed to share about someone they hooked up with a few months ago. They both pause, try and decide if they should indeed carry on the interview, but can already sense the laughter bubbling up from the story waiting to be told. Maybe we will get back to this later...
Plans are being hatched to bring the Night Shift to you soon. To be the first in the know when the new dates are announced, sign up to receive LIFT’s newsletter.
NIGHT SHIFT: A Photoshoot
Featuring: Malik Nashad Sharpe and Travis Alabanza
Photographer: Elise Rose
Hair Stylist: Sam Roman
Make-up Artist: Umber Ghauri
Stylist: Mia Maxwell
Location: Master Shipwright's House
Artistic Director: Kris Nelson
Producer: Camila Gutierrez
Technical Producer: Mekel Edwards
Supported by: Goethe Institut – Echoes of the South Atlantic